Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Eatery partners call each other a real catch
Food writer Lindsey Nair
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Frank Guilfoyle’s life intersected with Steve Van Metre’s completely by chance.
Guilfoyle, the owner of Heavenly Ham, had just bought two Capt’n Paul’s Seafood locations — one in Daleville and one next door to his franchise — and was looking for some help with the transition.
Van Metre, the former owner and chef of Angler’s Cafe, was ready for a new challenge after 12 years at the downtown eatery.
When their accountant introduced his two clients to each other, the men slid into a partnership as smoothly as a bluepoint oyster goes down the gullet.
Their brainchild, The Seafood Company, opened at 2626 Broadway Ave. S.W. in November.
Guilfoyle, who spent years in the business of health care before he and his wife, Suzanne, opened Heavenly Ham, jokes that he can’t even boil water.
“I never even thought about the food” at the new restaurant, he told me. “That was sort of the coup in getting Steve.”
Van Metre likes a challenge, and opening a combination fresh seafood market and restaurant was an enticing one. Sure, being a professional chef and an angler by hobby had already taught him a lot about fish, but he has learned more behind the counter at The Seafood Company than he ever thought possible.
For example, he said, many people refuse to buy farm-raised salmon because they think it is inferior to wild salmon. In reality, he said, salmon cannot survive in unclean water and the farm-raised ones are not fed chemicals.
Having a wide range of fresh seafood available allows the chef to experiment in the kitchen, too. Take his skate sandwich, for example.
After ordering skate, also known as ray, for a customer, Van Metre decided to play around with the firm, white flesh himself. He found that it pulls apart just like pork when cooked.
As a result, diners will soon find a unique kind of barbecue on the menu at The Seafood Company.
Within the next few weeks, Van Metre plans to also add an Angler’s favorite, shrimp Senegalese stew, as well as a chicken dish, a seafood platter and perhaps an oyster po’ boy wrap.
Those dishes will join a full menu that includes a few other items for which Angler’s lovers have been jonesin’: spicy black bean soup, crab bisque and seafood chowder.
But seafood lovers shouldn’t forget about the fresh seafood counter, either.
Although the Capt’n Paul’s location in Daleville has closed, The Seafood Company still stocks Capt’n Paul’s signature crab cakes, seafood salad and salmon cakes, as well as an array of fresh fish and shellfish. A third Capt’n Paul’s location in Salem is owned and operated by someone else.
Afraid to tinker with tuna? Van Metre says his employees are willing to help customers come up with unique seafood preparations. He even shared a simple marinade recipe with me that will complement a variety of fresh fish.
The Seafood Company will take special orders for customers whenever possible — I’m already drooling over the prospect of picking my way through a bushel of blue crabs.
Those occasional supplies should make for great nightly specials in the restaurant. Just ask anyone who lucked into the striped sea bass with lump crabmeat cream sauce one evening.
Successes like that only reaffirm Guilfoyle and Van Metre’s rather West Coast concept of melding the functionality of a fish market with the warm ambiance of a seafood restaurant.
But don’t expect to smell raw seafood when you walk across the tile entryway.
“You walk in here,” Van Metre assured Guilfoyle, “and all you’re going to smell is garlic.”
Cilantro Lime Marinade
suitable for grouper, mahi,shrimp or tuna
Juice from 5 limes
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 heaping Tbsp. minced garlic
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. diced red bell pepper
3/4 Tbsp. honey (more or less to taste)
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Whisk together all ingredients and marinate fish for 15 minutes.
If desired, reserve some marinade and brush over fish as you cook.
— Courtesy of Steve Van Metre